LACONIA — The Belknap County Delegation on Tuesday approved, 7-6, making a payment of about $1 million to the state — an amount to be doubled with matching federal money.
The state is requesting the payments from all counties as part of an effort to boost funding for regional programs for substance abuse and mental health, including diverting nonviolent offenders to treatment rather than incarceration when appropriate.
No additional taxes will be necessary. The county received a $3.9 million windfall in so-called “ProShare” funding this year, some of which could be used to free up money for the payment to the state.
ProShare money, which is provided to nursing homes, was about three times higher this year in the county because of a new method of calculating need that has been approved by the federal government.
Opponents of making the payment to the state expressed concern that, if federal funding were to dry up, the county could be left with responsibility for a program it can’t afford on its own.
The Belknap County Commission recommended making the payment.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy said that, if federal matching funds stopped being available sometime in the future, there’s no requirement for the county to continue the program on its own.
“The money is used to pay contractors,” he said. “We’re not hiring government employees, and we would not be stuck. That’s not the case.”